So I owe an apology to someone I love today… Pearl. I have been so blinded by frustration and haven’t been able to just take a step back, see the progress we have made, and get some perspective on her issues. I was clicking through some of the newer (to me) blogs I have started following and looking through archives today and came across this post from Ruffly Speaking that made me realize what a bad attitude I have had recently and how much this is affecting my relationship with Pearl, even though I may not be showing my frustration outwardly. I have mentally been thinking of Pearl’s and my relationship as adversarial. I was thinking: I want to get her to behave, she stubbornly refuses to cooperate. I was taking things personally.
I don’t think that reading a blog post will fix our relationship overnight (even such an incredibly wise and well written one), but it has helped to change my perspective and realize that, even if I am not a fan of my dog yet, I want to be. I want to understand her better. I want to learn to listen to her better. I want to work WITH her instead of against her. I want to see her potential and not look at behavioral challenges as ways that she has failed me or not lived up to expectations. Pearl is not acting a certain way because she doesn’t want to be a good dog. In fact, I would say that one of her very best qualities is that she does want to be a good dog. We are both learning- Pearl is learning how to be a good dog and a happy dog and I am learning how to teach her that.
In addition to an apology, I also owe Pearl a thank you. For being so patient with me as I figure her out. For being so forgiving of my mistakes, my impatience, and my ignorance. So in order to stick with this new positivity, I figure I need a plan. It’s like starting a diet- you go all out the first week eating nothing but veggies and yogurt, but you get tired of that pretty soon and its back to donuts and cheese fries (mmmm donuts). But if you have a plan and set reasonable goals it’s much easier to stick with it. So, in order to stay on a positive track with Pearl I am going to set two goals. 1. I am going to work with her on Dr. Karen Overall’s relaxation protocol every day. Because Pearl’s problems are more behavioral, I think this will be better than working on specific tricks or commands. 2. I am going to try to take her on longer walks. Right now, I walk her in the morning and my husband walks her in the afternoon. But because I hate getting up early, its cold, and Pearl is super reactive and loves to pull, our walks have gotten shorter and shorter so now its basically once around the block and done. I am going to try to walk her for at least a half and hour in the morning and, on the days when I have time, I am also going to try to walk her again later in the day. Also, goal 2a. I am going to stop being lazy and really work hard at reinforcing good leash habits and not let her get away with so much pulling (I am going to try changing direction when she pulls rather than the “be a tree” method, which is easier for lazy me but, for Pearl, less effective).
I owe some other thank yous today as well. I am the recipient of an unexpected honor, a 2012 Shivie! Kristine of Rescued Insanity has, in the spirit of the season, chosen to recognize ten bloggers for our perseverance in, as she puts it, “enduring life with a truly wacked-out canine.”
I feel especially honored by this award as Kristine and Shiva have been incredible role models for me and Kristine’s obvious dedication to and love for Shiva, despite (or maybe because of) the challenges, constantly motivates me to keep going when I feel like I can’t take any more of Pearl’s special brand of crazy.
I also wanted to give a VERY belated thank you to Sue from Graceful Greyhounds for passing on the Pawsome Blogger Award.
For those of you who aren’t already readers of Sue’s blog, go check it out- her greyhound, Song, is one of the prettiest and sweetest dogs in the blogosphere. I haven’t been in the right frame of mind to accept this award, since I feel like I’ve been so negative here recently, but today seems like a good day to embrace an award like this and pass on the love! So in that spirit, I would like to pass this award on to all the bloggers who have left me such lovely and supportive comments as I go through this rough patch with Pearl- your kind words have made me feel so much better.
P.S. I owe my husband an apology and a thank you too. Sorry for forgetting to get you a valentine’s day card and not having anything special planned for the holiday. I will make it up to you. And thank you for being so patient (with me and with Pearl), for understanding me and keeping me sane, for knowing how to make me happy even when I don’t know, for laughing and enjoying the things about me that should really drive you up a wall, and, especially, for being so fun and funny and for making me enjoy my life so very much.